On max effort days when I lift weights at ~95% or more of whatever I'll achieve on that day, I am unable to keep my breath in the middle of the concentric part.

A recent attempt at 130 kg @ 87 kg, where I am happy about my form, yet you can hear a lip fart, barely at my limit of holding the air in.

Considering the difference in effort between 120 kg and 130 kg, I expected to have a relatively easy 140 kg and most likely grind a 145 kg lift. Yet, my 140 kg attempt came to a complete stop. After exhaling, if it wasn't for the belt pushing against my ribs, I know I would have folded in half. Admittedly, my knees shifted back and my hips went up, so I can appreciate how a good morning position would put extreme pressure on my core.

Here is an older attempt at 125 kg @ 82 kg. I don't believe I get in a good morning position there, yet it still happens. I have relatively long legs for my height, so I except to get quite a bit of a torso lean.

My DL is at a ridiculous 190 kg with great form, yet no sign of even being close to my limit of losing bracing.

I know I brace slightly differently between the two lifts. For the squat, I try to take in as much air as possible and keep everything tight, while for the DL I take a smaller breath or the pressure and general feeling of about to explode makes me sick.

So, what gives? Am I just generally weak in the squat and my sticking point breaks my form down? Is my core weak? If there could be various reasons, how do I go about figuring out which one it is?

I don't know if it matters, but when my low bar was at 120 kg, I had to grind 3x5 @ 80 kg front squats and I'm almost certain I wouldn't have had a single at 90 kg. I don't do front squats frequently, but still, the effort exerted was on a completely different level.

I haven't done direct ab work in forever, because I noticed my core strength improved so much more with just squats.

  • 1
    I love how you added the word ridiculous to your claim about the deadlift.
    – MJB
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:23
  • @MJB I find it more annoying than entertaining that my lifts are so uneven. Ridiculous is simply my word choice for venting that sentiment, but now that you've pointed it out, I can see how it can be interpreted. Now, that's funny.
    – Reti43
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:27
  • Yeah I didn't mean to come across in a negative way, I just found it a fun way to describe the lift!
    – MJB
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 13:46

3 Answers 3


I don't think problem is with breath taking.

If you have high deadlift, and a specially if that is classic one, you have much stronger back then legs. Try to keep your tibia straight, do not move knees forward. Here is more about it. That way you will use your back much more over quads. If you want to stick what you have now - make legs stronger.

Also, as a comment - you keep head in strange position - it can be due to angle, but please take a look on it.


Regarding holding your breath: Please consider modifying your Valsalva Maneuver by closing your airway with your glottis instead of your lips/tongue/etc. This modification might allow you to resist leakage better.

Please see also this related answer about the role of the abdominal muscles in the squat.


I guess the answer to your questions is a bit of everything.

First, I would decrease the weights in order to remove the belt dependency. This way you know when your form is breaking down.

Second, learn how to breath and how to hold the air inside throughout the movement.

From your videos, your core looks pretty weak. Decrease the weights, get your form right, learn how to breath in between sets, control your breathing, breath out when you are at the push part of the exercise and then continue by increasing the weights.

  • I don't find your advice useful because it's vague at best. What do I need to fix about my form? I'm fairly aware of the valsalva manoeuvre and I make sure my core is full with air before a rep starts. The problem is that it's hard to keep the breath in when the weight gets heavy. Is there something I should be doing different? What would that be? The belt dependency isn't a factor. Putting on a belt adds about 10-15 kg to my lift, but at over 90-95% of either my beltless OR belted squat, this problem is likely to arise.
    – Reti43
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 22:13
  • I wrote what I think are basic guidelines. Assuming you are (relatively) healthy, it is clear to me that your problem is probably how breathing can support your lifting. If you cannot hold your breath, it means you are not breathing correctly. Because your core strength will play a stronger role when your lifts are indeed very heavy for you. I don't think you can go far enough on a forum.. That's why I suggested you to eliminate what is unnacessary at first. Good luck anyway
    – Belzebu
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 22:24

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